This is the accomplishment Ernie Els says he’s most proud of

Ernie Els is still grinding at age 52.

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Ernie Els is one of the game’s living legends: A Hall of Famer, Presidents Cup captain, winner of four major championships and owner of a total victory tally that includes 28 European Tour events and 19 PGA Tour tournaments. His career has been, in a word, remarkable — especially when you consider that he achieved most of it during Tiger Woods’ heydey.

But despite the ample fodder from which he has to choose, there’s one achievement that stands out from the rest in Els’ mind. And on this week’s episode of Subpar, he explained what it is to hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz.

“Just to have the career I’ve had, to be honest. To have a long career, you’ve gotta do a lot of things right, a lot of things have to go your way,” Els said. “Injuries, touch wood, haven’t been too bad for me. Nothing catastrophic. And then just to have the love of the game for this long time. There’s a lot of other things we can do in life. But to keep the love of the game to where I want to still compete and so forth. I’m 52, 53 this year in October.

Ernie Els and Tiger Woods at the Arnold Palmer Invittional.
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“So the most proud thing is to hang around and be [relevant],” Els continued. “And the PGA Tour’s looked after us very well, with the Champions Tour now. We’re knocking on Jay’s door to get some more money for this thing. But there’s a lot of other things happening in the world and we’re thankful to play still.”

Els’ long career has given him an appreciative perspective of what the game has given him. His daughter Samantha recently graduated from Stanford — something he isn’t sure would have been possible if it wasn’t for golf.

“I probably would have been working for my dad in South Africa,” Els mused. “He’s got a trucking company. I don’t know if that would have been all that much fun for me. But who knows what I would have done if it wasn’t for this game?

“It’s been a pretty good ride.”

Els spends the majority of his time on the PGA Tour Champions these days, where this season, he’s posted 10 top-25 finishes in 11 events. For more from Els, including what it was like battling Woods, and Woods’ impact on purse sizes, check out the full interview below.

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Golf.com Photographer

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.